Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows I'm something of a Roku fanboy. Roku, that tiny box that brings to your TV streaming video from Netflix, Amazon On Demand, MLB.com, Mediafly, Revision 3, Twit.TV, NBA Game Time and I could go on and on... I've had my Roku for a few years now and love it.
Except...lately I've found myself turning on the Playstation 3 rather than switching over to the (always on) Roku box for Netflix streaming. Why? Because sometimes you want to watch what's already in your Instant Queue, and sometimes you want a bit of serendipity. Roku has been lagging behind other Netflix solutions in that it has only offered the option to play titles already in your queue. If you want to watch something else, you had to run to a PC, add the new title to your queue then go back to the Roku. Netflix on the PS3, Xbox and Wii (and I assume other devices, these are the ones I have personal experience with) allow you to browse titles in various genres for those times when you're just looking for something to watch. I've been waiting for Roku to refresh its Netflix interface and yesterday we got the good news that an update is coming next month. Not only will we get the Browse options that other devices offer, but we're getting a full text search of all of Netflix's streaming content: the consoles don't offer that! (Yet.) The layout is getting a general overhaul as well. No longer are we limited to a single row of titles marching across our screen. If you've used Netflix on Windows Media Center for Windows 7, the layout seems similar, but with details in a pop-up window rather than below the lists of titles. But there's no sense in me describing what's coming when we can just show you this video that Roku released yesterday. It showcases all the new features.